In a recent post in this benchmarking series, I discussed the issues I see with defining benchmarking peer groups based on industry. That led me to share the similarities I see among great companies when they benchmark.
In our benchmarking projects, there are primarily two roles. The sponsors are the organizations wanting to learn how to improve business processes, and the partners are the organizations selected for their innovative practices. Partners are the organizations sharing their practices with the sponsoring organizations. They are selected because they perform well in the focus area for the benchmarking project.
There are organizations that are regularly recognized as partners in numerous benchmarking projects, as well. They have proven, stellar performance in many process areas, and, theoretically, when they participate in a benchmarking project, they aren’t gaining a lot. They are good after all. They share what they do and the other organizations learn how to improve.
But, when I ask those organizations what they get out of a benchmarking project, they consistently respond in a similar fashion.
What I’ve noticed about the really good companies
These are just a few of the things I’ve noticed about how really good organizations approach benchmarking.
- They never think we are good enough and never stop learning. They always want to improve, and they are relentless about it.
- They feel we can learn something from anybody, and seldom focus on industry peers. They’ve gotten past that hang-up and understand they have to think about things differently than their industry peers. They are always trying to shed those industry filters that influence the way industry peers think and operate.
- They don’t want to be as good as their industry peers, they want to eclipse them. They are looking for breakthrough performance, not incremental increases, and they see industry designation as just a matter of chance. They have industry peers due to the fact they are in a similar market serving similar customers or providing similar products and services. That is the sum of it; they don’t see this industry peer filter. Industry peers are just like any other organization. If they can learn from industry peers, great, but that criteria isn’t anywhere near the top of their priority list.
- They have a very sound way of taking the things they learn from benchmarking and integrating them into their organization. They realize organizations aren’t plug-n-play, so they look for the atomic-level factors that drive performance, and they know how to get them in the hands of the right person. Their process of evaluating the appropriateness of implementing benchmarking findings allows them to focus. They can’t implement everything, and they can effectively determine what to implement and what they need to ignore.
These things seem to be embedded in their DNA, they are interesting, and they are very open in sharing. When they share, they know information flows back to them tenfold. Bottom line; everyone likes working with them.
Do you work there?